Theme Speaker Review

By Carrie Buchanan

Unitarian Universalists have an approach to religion that should resonate with the Millennial generation. But often, we do things that drive them away, Rev. Joan Van Becelaere told her morning audience Wednesday.

Generally defined as the generation born between 1980 and the early 2000s, Millennials are staying away from religious institutions in droves. They like to find their own spiritual paths, and many leave the religion in which they were raised. Others come from families that followed no religious tradition.

The question for UUs is how to attract those who might want to join us. The assumption that Generation Xers and Millennials will start looking for a church when they have children is proving to be wrong. So what should we be doing?

First, it’s important not to drive them away. A recent article by Frank Powell of the Campbell Street Church of Christ in Jackson, Tennessee, offered a top-ten list of reasons why churches turn off Millennials, which Van Becelaere posted and discussed.

  1. There is strong resistance to change
  2. A compelling vision is lacking or nonexistent
  3. Mediocrity is the expectation
  4. There is a paternalistic attitude toward young leaders
  5. There is a pervasive insider-focused mentality
  6. Transparency and authenticity are not high values
  7. Mentoring is not important
  8. Culture is viewed as an enemy
  9. Community is not valued
  10. The church is a source of division, not unity


To be welcoming, then, churches must let young adults lead – not just in name, but by giving them real responsibilities.

“If you micro-manage them, treat them like a child or refuse to believe they are capable of being leaders because of their age and lack of experience, wisdom, etc., they will be at your church for a very short time,” Van Becelaere said.

“Millennials want to change the world,” she stressed. Getting out into the world, both locally and globally, to help those in need is important to them.

Doing things well, and doing things that work, is also important to Millennials. And if something is not working, Millennials will be quicker than previous generations to change it.

“Millennials are tired of hearing the phrase, ‘This is how we have always done it,’ ” Van Becelaere said. “That answer is no longer acceptable.” Fear of failure is not common among this generation, she noted.

“Failing as you learn and experiment is part of dreaming big and trying new things.”

Tuesday’s Talk Back also featured some discussion of ways to attract Millennials and GenXers to our congregations. For example, Van Becelaere noted during that discussion that many are not available on Sundays due to their jobs or other commitments. So looking at different times to offer services, as well as different formats, can be helpful in attracting these folks.


Those who have children also value spending time together, so rigidly separating the generations is not a good idea. Churches that have offered family outings to explore the natural world, service opportunities to help the homeless and others in need, and international missions that genuinely help those who need it, have been successful with Millennials.

For aging Baby Boomers who might be eager to relinquish the reins, this generation is keen to take hold. Tomorrow, Van Becelaere will discuss the Boomer generation and its roles in our congregations.


The Melanie Pescan Ashiko – donated to the Scholarship Fund

Story and Donation by Rebekah Benner

There is a truly magickal story associated with this drum. I’ll keep it short.

Almost 20 years ago I found an ad in a new agey magazine for women to create their own retreat at Oakwood Retreat Center in Indiana. I called to make arrangements for friends from my Sacred Space group from Rocky River, Ohio, to attend. In talking with Oakwood staff, I found out that 3 new drums in Akron had once lived at Oakwood. Small world!

Oakwood is magickal! Home of the Midwest Drum and Dance Festival, and WomanDrum which is run by UUs Sally Childs-Helton and Pam Blevins-Hinckle of Indianapolis. Here I met Steve Lange, founder of Shekinah Rhythm Instruments, a restorative carpenter who also made gorgeous drums from his scrap lumber.

After the retreat I had a chance to talk with my friend Melanie about my time in Oakwood whereas she said “Oh. I love it there. My son’s best friend lived there when I lived in Muncie.”  An even smaller world!

Melanie eventually wanted a drum and I had this one made for her by my friend Steve.

She enjoyed the drum and the two of us were able to take a trip back to Oakwood for a rhythm festival at a later date.

Sadly Melanie passed at a very young age, but not before touching everyone she met with her gentle spirit, unconditional love, and being a tireless advocate for the scholarship fund here at Summer Institute.

Around 2011, in my meditation class I met a really cool guy, Brian Feinsilber. (And eventually found out that Brian was great friends of Lois and Jennifer from Kent UU, fellow SI friends.) Brian was a drum restorer and always  showed up at my drum circle with his latest and greatest find. So it was no surprise that one Friday night he sat down in circle with a gorgeous oak ashiko.

I took one look at it, saw the woodburned “Shekinah” logo on the front, teared up, and pointed it out to my husband. “Oh wow…is that Melanie’s drum?” he asked. I could barely answer “yes.”. Brian had purchased the drum at Melanie’s estate sale, from her son Ben.

The Ashiko had traveled almost full circle.

After a few months Brian sold me the drum. I took it with me to an Oakwood retreat, handed it over to its maker, and it was completely, and lovingly revitalized.

And now it has come full circle to home, here at SI…and it can go home with you for the price of a $5 raffle ticket. All proceeds benefit the Melanie Pescan Summer Institute Scholarship Fund.

Drum on!


Winter Institute is all of the fun and socializing of SI without the hectic schedule!

There are frosty outdoor activities like sledding, hiking and cross country skiing. For those who choose to stay in their slippers all weekend, there is a beautiful lodge with its many cozy corners and fireplaces. The pool and hot tub are truly a wintertime treat. There will be daily morning and evening casual worship services, morning water aerobics (after worship,) pre-dinner cocktail hour in the hospitality suite, and breakfast and dinner meals are included with registration.

There are fellow UUs always ready to play board games or to join in the community jigsaw puzzle. We have wonderful community worship services and great conversations.

Ned Stark says you must come!

February 12-15, 2016

At Salt Fork State Park Lodge,

near Cambridge, Ohio, two hours east of Columbus

Details and links online at


We have up for grabs YOUR CHOICE of hairstyle for young adult Joe Marnoni. Grown for five years without any trimming, well cared for, from a good home, 2′ 6” of hair being donated to Locks of Love. No reasonable offer will be refused. Many styles from which to choose. Great deal for those wanting to see something specific worked into those gorgeous brown locks!

The infamous longhair, Joe Marnoni, will be having his hair cut. As you might have seen at Monte Carlo night, young adults are collecting money for several different possible hairstyles that Joe’s hair could be cut into. Whichever style collects the most money will be revealed on Joe’s head on Friday. The come from behind powerhouse, #TEAMMULLET, is currently trouncing the other possible styles.

The current standings:

Keep an eye out for young adults with donations buckets/hats/whatever containers they can get their hands on. Donate to whatever style you would like to see the most! The final push for style collections will take place Thursday night at the pub. Most importantly, all proceeds go to the SI Scholarship Fund!

Additionally, a small contingent of young adults are organizing the ENDANGERED HAIR FOUNDATION. Save the long, luscious locks for Locks of Love! A foundation to rescue our beloved thick, rich, titillating espresso mane is in the works. If the EHF can collect more cash for the SI Scholarship Fund than any of the other hairstyles, the hair will be saved!


Thinking about how to help with General Assembly 2016? Here are a couple of ways:

If you have UU friends from further away, let them know that GA will be in Ohio and it is a good city to visit.

Contact Laura Howe at  with questions or to have the GA chalice your UU event.

Laura Howe



In addition to the flat-rate young adults, special SI “celebrities” will be auctioned off starting at 6:00. The festivities will take place across from the dining hall.


World Café

By Rev. Renee Ruchotzke

The second World Café session engaged with questions around stewardship for SI and economic equity based on our UU values.  It was noted that camperships (registration fee waivers for certain volunteer positions) are not weighted for amount of time and energy involved and the ability of the camper to participate in other parts of SI.  There was also a strong commitment to making sure families could attend together.


Suggestions included:


Elliot on the Board

Elliot is on the board.

He has his goggles on.

He’s walking back and forth.

Back and forth.


Bobbing heads in the water are calling his name.

“Elliot! Elliot! Just jump!”

Elliot comes down the board ladder.

Elliot looks worried.


Some formerly-bobbing heads go up the board and jump.

Elliot goes up the board again.

He sits on the edge of the board.

Elliot looks ready. He feels the love.

Elliot—full of his own power and beating heart—jumps.


Elliot, standing tall, calls out

“Go ahead! You can do it!

Just jump!”


By a listener in the pool


“I blush at the ironies of nature”…John Irving

Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 the rain storm began quietly as our poetry session commenced.  We were reading poems about love, desire, and moments of passion.  And as we read the storm intensified.  We ended with a poem about self love and the sun came out.  Dean Hazelton, our fearless poetry leader, announced that the special effects were free of charge.

Marylyn Devlin


RE News

By Kat Gibbons

Things are hopping in the RE wing this year!

The sixth grade, led by Bethany Thornton and Kathie Maloney, went on a field trip this week to the Allen Art Museum. Then today they made rice crispy treat sushi! It’s awesome!

The fifth graders, led by Heather Dinklage and Tracy Safran, are busy creating things to make the world a better place. I’m sure we’ll find out more about that later, but there’s a lot of construction going on in there!

Fourth graders are also planning a trip this week to the Allen Art     Museum, courtesy of their teachers Russ Kunz and Nancy Hurt.

There are so many youngsters in the nursery/preschool that we needed five teachers to help out. So kudos to Sandy Bowers, Michelle Bores, Deb Cannon, Jack Decker, and Evelyn Sobczak.

More information will be forthcoming as the week goes on!



A.A. Milne H.H. Gregg

B.B. King J.J. Abrams

C.C. Sabathia L.L. Cool J

Dee Dee Ramone George R.R. Martin

e.e. cummings Z.Z. Top


Help us, Oberlin Kenobi, You’re Our Only Hope

Q:   Is the president of Oberlin known as Obi-One?

A:    I did say yesterday that we wouldn’t be answering questions about the school.  However, in this case, the answer is no.

Q: In Sunday’s issue, why was there a picture of a dinosaur illustrating the article about Conference Services and Registration?

A:    That wasn’t a dinosaur.  Conference Services Information Center is nicknamed CSIC, pronounced “sea sick.”  The picture is of  noted ‘50s and ‘60s television star Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent.